HMFH Architects

Keeping the Sustainability Promise: Fales Insights in School Business Affairs

In this article for School Business Affairs, Laura Wernick discusses the importance of setting goals and tracking costs early in the design process to ensure communities see a return on investments in sustainability.

In the case of the new Fales Elementary School, the town’s commitment to net-zero energy use was brought to the forefront of the community visioning and planning process. These early efforts literally shaped the building—oriented and designed to both maximize and showcase daylight and solar energy—and enabled sustainable measures to be budgeted upfront. Read our full article, “Keeping the Sustainability Promise,” for key insights from the process in School Business Affairs.


One critical early design decision is the orientation of the building. The building orientation and its massing on the site dictate tremendous downstream implications for energy efficiency. At the Fales School in Westborough, Massachusetts, for example, the goal to achieve a net-zero building led to early investigations on solar orientation as the educational program layout took shape. Ensuring that academic spaces had consistent north or south exposure helped optimize daylighting within the classrooms and made it easier to minimize heat buildup and glare from harder-to-control east and west light.”